Inn-to-Inn Walking Tour in Vermont
Ruth originated the walking tour, and it’s been in business with these four inns for about 13 years now. In the morning, after serving pancakes and French toast, she drops you at the Weston Priory, preferably at around 10:00 (on a Saturday or Sunday) or 10:30 (if you’ve come on a weekday). That’s when the gift shop opens, stocked with CDs, wool, and pottery produced by the Benedictine monks who live there. Her timing also gets you into Weston around lunchtime. It’s a well-thought-out plan, plus “I don’t want them to linger,” she says matter-of-factly.Peace settles like mist on the Priory grounds. The monks have restored the once-abandoned farm site with a pond, fruit trees, and lush vegetable gardens that they’re watering by hand, a scene with the simplicity and beauty of a Millet painting.
With the priory at my back, I set off under a canopy of broad-leaved greenery. The road ambles along, and so do I, until a few miles later I hit Weston’s shady village green.
Right on schedule, according to Ruth’s timetable, but she didn’t tell me there would be fudge to sample at the original Vermont Country Store; crackers and jams to test, as well. Then I discover the cheese cubes and a couple of excellent dips, and when I finally tear myself away, I’m fortified with a little too much sugar. Time to buzz out of town.
I’m about to discover my favorite view, up here on Piper Hill Road, with Magic Mountain in the distance, old Capes and farmhouses around me, a rolling field to my right, and two companionable horses parked head to tail. Once again, I step off the pavement and onto dirt, the road to Andover unfurling ahead. A handful of hours later, I smell BBQ.
Part 4: Rowell’s Inn and Back to Inn Victoria (11.2 miles)
Mike Brengolini looks up from the blackened smoker outside Rowell’s Inn. It looks like something that survived the Revolutionary War. He lifts the lid, and hunks of meat the size of Frisbees sizzle as they hit the grill. I’m ravenous.
Truth be told, as I round the corner of this Greek Revival stagecoach stop and climb onto the front porch, the worn-out wood and dangling Christmas lights look as weary as I’m feeling. Inside, however, the place is practically a museum. Built in the early 19th century, it’s still got the town’s original post office. On the third floor, Mike shows me a hidden room where escaping slaves on the Underground Railroad probably stayed. “The curved porch outside was a sign it was a safe house,” he explains. And you can also peruse guest logs from the 1880s.
Mike loves his history, and it’s hanging everywhere. But he also loves his slow-smoked spare ribs and fajitas and hot sauce, which is why he bottles his own. That night, in a room off the inn’s English-style pub, I taste ribs that dissolve in my mouth, and a delicate quesadilla with awesome guacamole. The place fills to capacity–both locals and summer folks. The couple at the next table, who’ve come up from Buck’s County, Pennsylvania, tell me, “We eat here every Friday when we’re up here.”
The place is rockin’. Mike, his wife, Susan McNulty (an acupuncturist), and a lone waitress serve 44, but in the morning there’s still enough left over for a breakfast quesadilla. Then it’s time to hit the road–last leg of the journey. This particular walk, I’m told, is especially beautiful in the fall, with views over the Tater Hill golf course, before it meanders alongside Popple Dungeon Creek.